Prices for collectors skyrocket, hobbyists disappointing


New York – Americans are obsessed with collectibles and are raising the prices of collectible cards, video games and other souvenirs for young people. The enthusiasm has brought a small fortune to some, but it is a deep frustration for those who enjoy playing games and trading cards as a hobby.

Among the most sought-after and contested objects are the childhood relics of the Millennium. These include copies of collectible cards such as Pokemon’s Lizardon and Magic: The Gathering’s Black Lotus, as well as Super Mario Bros. game cartridges. from Nintendo. Some cards sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and unopened Super Mario games recently sold for $ 2 million.

This is more than the case with opportunistic collectors trying to invest in the explosion of nostalgia caused by a pandemic. Everyone seems to be fishing for a piece of the pie.

Companies that own franchises like Pokemon release new editions as soon as they can print. Internet personalities market their products and collect the advertising costs. Companies that pass on the value of their property to collectors are doing unprecedented business. In at least one case, we receive financial support from a well-known private equity firm wishing to participate in the action.

However, while some collectors and investors see dollar signs, others complain about the collapse of their nearby community. Players trying to replay face to face after a pandemic will not be able to find the game pieces they need. If the work is available, the price increases astronomically. Critics of the price hike are now the target of harassment from those who view trading cards, comics and video games as portfolios of stocks.

“Prices are going up and access is going down,” said Brian Lewis, who runs a YouTube channel called Tolarian Community College.

Part of the collective enthusiasm has been fueled by the self-fulfilling cycle of YouTube personalities driving the hype for collections and the rising prices of collectibles. This can lead to a big payday, as advertisers find a swirling frenzy among influencer enthusiasts.

With over 23 million subscribers, Logan Paul made a few videos that just opened the box of ancient Pokemon cards, touted the price paid, and generated millions of views. Australian YouTube personality Michael Anderson, dubbed Unlisted Leaf, created a similar video with millions of views.

“It might be a fast growing industry, but it’s still a big business. The brand wants to reach these audiences, ”said Justin Kline, co-founder of influencer marketing agency Markerly. Said. Based on industry standard metrics, Anderson earns up to $ 50,000 in ad revenue unboxing videos, and Logan Paul estimates that every video could generate six-figure revenue. I am.

The hype sent collectors scrambling to see if their Pikachu, Charizard, Mox Emerald, or Ancestral recall cards were worth the luck. To do this, they turn to filing services inundated with orders.

Beckett’s Rating Service has all but stopped accepting rating cards unless customers are willing to pay $ 250 per card for the super-fast processing service that is usually reserved for more expensive collectibles. The company says the basic filing service takes over a year.

In response to record demand, companies are releasing new versions of their games, including high-end products that demand higher prices. It is not known if the momentum is sustainable, at least in terms of price. Other epidemics like Beanie Babies and Poggs only exploded in the crater in the 90s, and most collectors held worthless trash. Pokemon and Magic have been around for decades and have garnered great interest for quite some time.

Meanwhile, auction companies and ranking companies are making a lot of money from the current speculative frenzy.

Portland-based Bryan Ruiz makes several videos a week under the moniker “The Teacher” in hopes of teaching new and existing players his favorite hobby, Magic: The Gathering. I am. With over 600,000 subscribers, he also commented on the issue of price increases in both playing conditions, in particular the secondary market (cards bought in stores) and the prices charged by companies for products such as Magic. Make.

“I am deeply concerned that these price increases affect the average person’s access to gambling,” he said. “The investor class in Magic is growing, but I don’t think that’s having a positive impact on the game.”

But the enthusiasm goes beyond collectible cards. Earlier this summer, the US Mint released the Morgan Silver Dollar 100th Anniversary Collection, considered one of the most beautiful designs ever made by coin collectors. The product was used up in a few minutes.

Three weeks ago, an unopened copy of Super Mario Brothers for the NES sold for $ 2 million, making it the most expensive video game ever to sell. Just a few weeks ago, a copy of the Super Mario 64 sold for a record $ 1.6 million at the time. An unopened copy of Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda in 1987 sold for $ 870,000 in early July.

Some members of the video game collecting community question whether the prices paid are exaggerated due to the involvement of third parties such as Larry, who sells “stocks” of collectibles.

The collectible card community, on the other hand, has its own steep prices as players scramble to find the items they need for their collections.

Magic: The Gathering’s first set, the all-new Black Lotus, known as the Alpha, sold for over $ 510,000 in January. Its price is double the price sold by cards in a similar condition six months before July 2020.

Austin Deceder, 25, mainly buys and sells cards on Facebook and Twitter as a middleman between players who want to exit the game and new players. He is currently based in the town of Kanas and has to shop for collections and travel the country full time to balance the fun of the game with his current financial implication.

Dededer had a used Black Lotus card which he said sold for $ 7,000 in September 2020.

Inflation isn’t just about ultra-rare cards. Obtain the widely available Magic: The Gathering card “Ragavan, the Nimble Pilferer”. A card of a monkey with glasses sitting on a treasure was $ 30 earlier this summer. The card is currently selling for almost $ 90, as the game store reopened after the pandemic, Deceder said.

“Now that people can play directly, the price of cards is going up again,” he said.

But not everyone is happy. Some enthusiasm say the enthusiasm has caused the worst among fans and speculators. With the motto “Gotta Catch’Em All!”, Nothing is more obvious among collectors of Pokémon cards.

The excitement of Pokemon started late last year when Logan Paul created his first unboxing video. This allowed other content creators to create similar videos and collectors to bid on the prices of new and old cards. I’m making a video in Dallas that includes unboxing under the name Leonhart.

“This is when things get very crazy,” he said.

Since then, Pokemon Trading Card Boxes have been sold regularly in hobby stores and large retail stores. Conflicts have arisen, and chains like Target must limit the number of packs individual customers can purchase. Pokemon says it’s trying to print as many cards as possible to catch up.

“The entire Pokemon community has deteriorated dramatically,” said Shelby, creator of the Pokemon video named Frosted Caribou on YouTube.

Most of Shelby’s content features unboxing and discussions of upcoming products, but one of her most popular downloads has focused on issues in the Pokémon collecting community since the frenzy of the game began. ‘last year. It was an hour-long video that I guessed. Shelby, who declined to reveal her last name to avoid harassment, said some harassment in the past has come from some of the community’s biggest collectors, especially when she talks about prizes. I did.

Later this year, Pokemon will release a set celebrating its 25th anniversary. Anniversary sets will generally be of interest to any collector, but this time Shelby said hesitated.

“This set will be great, and it won’t be available. It’s going to be terrible, ”she said.

But the growing interest was good for business and Wall Street.

Hasbro’s Wizards of the Coast division creates the tabletop RPG “Dungeons & Dragons” and Magic: The Gathering. Wizards reported second-quarter revenue of $ 406 million, more than double the revenue from the previous year. Hasbro executives told investors in July that they would raise product prices soon. Wizards introduced premium pack cards with hard-to-find game pieces that sell for four to five times the price of regular packs.

Wall Street is also riding a wave of interest. Private equity fund Blackstone bought a controlling stake in Certified Collectibles Group, a collectible card and other collectables rating company, for $ 500 million in July. The company has doubled its workforce since last year and purchased an additional 30,000 square feet of office space, according to Max Spiegel.

It is not known if this is good for players who have been practicing these hobbies for a long time. Long-time collectors are likely to make money in the future, but those who have recently joined these communities are buying overpriced cards that are put forward by those in the most profitable positions. Maybe, said the community leader. Same as the stock market frenzy that drove the prices of GameStop and other “meme” stocks higher earlier this year.

“Now there is a whole subculture that uses Pokemon as a stock market. I don’t know how these people can look at the community and say it’s healthy. Shelby said.

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